Progress reports by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) say that although the government has made “historic climate promises” it has been too slow to deliver them.
The CCC said “this defining year for the UK”s climate credentials has been marred by uncertainty and delay to a host of new climate strategies” and those that have emerged “have too often missed the mark”.
It said the prime minister’s Ten-Point Plan was “an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies”.
The CCC also said that the public has “not been informed or engaged in the changes that must lie ahead”.
It added: “It is absolutely critical that the new [net-zero] strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit, with clear policy plans.”
Despite UK emissions falling to nearly 50 per cent of their 1990 levels during the 2020 lockdown, the journey to net-zero is far from half-completed, according to the CCC. Emissions next year are expected to rebound and so far, “lasting progress in reducing emissions has been narrowly based”. The CCC says that the "relative success of decarbonising electricity must continue, but it must be matched with solid commitments to decarbonise buildings, transport, industry and agriculture".
Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said: “We are in the decisive decade for tackling climate change. The government must get real on delivery. Global Britain has to prove that it can lead a global change in how we treat our planet. Get it right and UK action will echo widely. Continue to be slow and timid and the opportunity will slip from our hands. Between now and COP 26, the world will look for delivery, not promises.”
Baroness Brown, chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver net-zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focused on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”